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International Day of Happiness
I don’t know if you realized it, but Monday was the International Day of Happiness. However you might have celebrated happiness, that was the day the 2017 World Happiness Report was released by the United Nations that ranks the nations of the world from most happy to least happy. The feeling of happiness is, of course, subjective, fickle and random, but the UN Survey is based on measurable economic stats like GDP, life expectancy, availability of health care but also self reported things like: a sense of freedom, generosity (generous people live longer and are generally happier), social support (having someone to call when you need help), and positive effect (experiencing laughter and enjoyment in life more than worry, sadness and anger).
Based on a scale of 1-8 with eight being Disney World (The Happiest Place on Earth), Norway scored 7.537 and ranked #1. Norwegians say it is due to a good social safety net and having fjords. I would not have guessed that a place with an abundance of snow and Lutherans would get a top ranking, but then again I live in the U.S., which was 14th on the list with a score of 6.993.
What the report suggests is that trust and relationships are far more important than money and technology in gauging happiness, both national and personal. Something I found particularly interesting was this observation in a section entitled, Restoring American Happiness,
The central paradox of the modern American economy is this: income per person has increased roughly three times since 1960, but measured happiness has not risen. The situation has gotten worse in recent years: per capita GDP is still rising, but happiness is now actually falling.
The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the American Dream and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it. But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach. The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America's multi-faceted social crisis— rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis.
Wherever you are on the happiness scale at this moment you can probably move up a couple of ticks by doing something for someone else, building trust or laughing. If we all do our part increasing happiness, maybe we can give the Norwegians a run for their money for the national happiness prize!
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